Let’s start with a few updates since I haven’t written for awhile:
Robyn at 6 months is smiling CONSTANTLY. She’s rolling over and over, and just started sitting up (did Obama inspire her too?). She’s sleeping much better since we moved her to her own crib in her own room. A few nights so far, she only woke once around 2am (in a stretch of about 8pm-6:30am). She’s eating solid food – so far carrots are her favorite. She still won’t take a bottle or pacifier… Teething is not bothering her as much, maybe because she is better at holding her teethers by herself without dropping them as often. Sophie the Giraffe is our newfound favorite teether that goes with her everywhere. She bites and grabs everything in sight. Watch out if you wear glasses! Her favorite is the placemat trick – if you sit her on your lap while eating a meal, she grabs the placemat lightening fast, aiming to send your dinner crashing to the floor.
Iris at 3 years and 3 months seems to be past the crazy overwhelming “daily tantrum” phase that plagued us in November and December. She’s much calmer and more polite most of the time. She talks non-stop, and after preschool she’s especially verbose, since apparently her student persona is silent and observant. She still loves imagination and pretending we are someone else. For the last few days I’ve been either Koka (Sandy’s dad) or Santa Claus, while she is Sandy-as-a-baby or my elf, respectively. She asks that I speak in the voice of the character as well. “say Ho Ho Ho mommy!” or “can you say that with your Koka voice?” Mind you, I do horrible impressions, and it’s a good thing most of this happens with no one else around to hear it! My “Koka voice” is sadly very far off, and might even be an Irish accent…
Iris seems to have more energy that needs to be burned off these days, and especially enjoys soccer, riding her tricycle, and ice skating. She spends a lot of time on detailed or crafty tasks too – drawing with chalk outside, or spending hours with her sticker books, crayons and note paper. Yesterday while sitting at her table writing meticulously tiny characters on a note pad she said “I’m daddy. I’m writing my to-do list. Iris you need to wait because if I don’t do this now, I’ll have to do it later tonight when you want me to stay upstairs after bedtime. This is very important.” She can almost write her name, though “R” is still challenging.
But the most interesting thing to me right now is the capacity that both Iris and Robyn seem to have for empathy. Iris has continued her concern for others, including inanimate objects… She has always been extra sensitive: as a one year old she burst into inconsolable tears at Gymboree when they bounced stuffed animal fish off the gym mat, and pointed out earnestly when a child fell over while “riding the parachute”; as a two year old she again was the only child in a room full of kids watching a library storytime who was devastated when Humpty Dumpty eggs on the felt storyboard “fell off the wall” – so much so that we had to go up afterwards to have the librarian show her they were okay. I began to find myself avoiding common kids songs or books like “monkeys bouncing on the bed” or “the cradle will fall” because I knew they’d elicit a strong reaction and questions. But lately it seemed maybe she had finally toughened up as a three year old.
Nope. Last week we read her a new book that had the song “On Top Of Spaghetti” – to the tune of “On Top of Old Smokey”… if you don’t know this version, it includes “I lost my poor meatball, when somebody sneezed. It rolled on the table, and onto the floor, and then my poor meatball, rolled out of the door. It rolled in the garden and under a bush, and then my poor meatball was nothing but mush.” Her eyes got big and her bottom lip jutted out, eyes teared up, she inhaled sharply… then let out a wail! What? At first we had no idea what she was upset about. But then she said “the poor meatball!” Well, we had to discuss the whereabouts of that meatball in detail throughout the day, especially at bedtime, and for days afterwards. She now finally has made peace with it, and has the song memorized. She’ll sing it to her stuffed animal friends, and assure them that it’s just a silly song, so not to worry about the meatball. “It grew into a tree full of baby meatballs now anyway.”
So her next question was even more complex: “why are the dinosaurs all extinct?” Hmmm… how do I answer that one without really depressing her? I’m really not sure how I will explain eventually where the chicken or fish she eats comes from…
Robyn may have a similar tendency too. She has been a generally quiet baby, who was silent even during Iris’ entire “naked preschool” episode. (don’t ask – let’s just say it was Iris’ record tantrum in December that mommy refused to give in to) But now Robyn notices a lot more, and the minute Iris cries or gets upset, Robyn reacts with her own a passionate wail. Oh boy. Here we go again. Will this sense of empathy carry on throughout their lives, inspiring them to help other people in some magnificent way? A future Mother Teresa or Barack Obama?